Erik-Peter Mortensen / Sacred Music in the English Style / Quem Terra Pontus: William Byrd

Beautiful voices

New York City’s Erik-Peter Mortensen has produced a lovely ‘a capella’ vocal piece entitled Quem Terra Pontus: William Byrd. The piece was expertly performed by the chorus and the overall effect comes through.
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A WONDERFUL RENAISSANCE PERFORMANCE

Listeners, lend your ears to this fine performance of this William Byrd piece. The possible literal translation, "He God of Land and Sea" is a fine example of Renaissance polyphony and reveals the roots of what would later become the tried and true technique of composition called imitation. The individual performers are well suited for one another and their blend of voices is either most natural or they've spent much time together, or this is one voice singing four parts. Either way, it is the sound that makes me close my eyes and feel as if I'm drifting upon a sonic cloud supported by their solid expertise. There are moments however when the balance comes into question; when they become unsure of the primacy of a line. This is a common situation with polyphonic pieces. First, we play the game "Where's the melody?". Then there's the lush writing where a non-harmonic tone like an upper neighbor, suspension, or other tension-creating device calls for a bit more volume from a voice and then things get cloudy. It's moments such as these that separate excellent performances from outstanding ones. There are not many of such instances in this recording but enough to put it on the bubble. How do we interpret Renaissance music? Where was RCA Victor in 1600!? I wish! Much of our guidance is left to what was written and this is both a blessing and a curse. I really like their interpretation. If you explore other performances you'll hear some that are akin to funeral dirges. I disagree. I also disagree with the ubiquitous and drawn out ritardando. This group does not do this. But the ending section at a slower tempo is superb! Overall I like the more madrigal-esque approach; but try it modal sometime and have some fun! The quality of the recording is quite good. Some might feel it a bit on the 'hot' side as to microphone placement and engineering. The voices are really 'there' so to speak. I like that as opposed to some of the more covered performances I've heard. As a performing musician I like hearing the occasional imperfection. There's absolutely nothing wrong with sounding human. Finally, I am not a linguist by any stretch. But I never felt that quem should be a two syllable word. I'd prefer you get off the 'u' quickly and get to the soft 'e' because it is a more pleasant sound, carries better potential for group sonority, and (let's face it) easier to tune on the run. 'oo's' are nice for long notes but if you get a word like 'when' on a quarter note; well I'm sure you get my drift. Bravo on a really fine performance!
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Wonderful music, delightful performance

You don't need to be an expert in Renaissance Music to enjoy this delightfull performance of Wiliam Byrd's piece. The warmth of the voices, the perfect intonation and the stylish phrasing will reach to you no matter your knowledge of early music. In my modest opinion It would benefit of a bit more flexible sense of tempo in order to achieve a more flowing feel in the music. It is nevertheless a highly enjoiable performance.
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Beautiful

Reminds me of going to Church when I was very young. Very Beautiful . I do not understand the words but the voices are just wonderful. Very soothing to hear and the melodic lines are quite pleasing to the ear. Love it thanks
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Querr

Nice music, combination of sweet voices and I really do listen to your music though I can't hear the Lingo but it do touch me in a tremendous way. I really admire the passion you have for music thank you
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